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Review of Anna O by Matthew Blake

Resignation syndrome is a hypothesized condition that induces a state of reduced consciousness and may occur during and/or after a traumatic event. This syndrome provides the very interesting foundation  for debut novel, Anna O. This novel follows our main character, Doctor Benedict Prince, an expert in sleep. Dr Prince is assigned the task of waking up Anna O, a girl who has been asleep for four years since the night she committed a double murder (whilst supposedly in a deep sleep!) This sets up the beginning of an intelligent, dark and compulsive read! Featuring very clever inclusions of diary entries from Anna O which show her interest in a similar case, it opens up the question of whether we are actually responsible for our actions while sleeping, and also shines a light on a disorder which is not recognised by the World Health Organization as a valid psychiatric condition.

As Benedict begins to research and test ways which may wake Anna O up, the realisation that someone is watching Anna and himself adds some paranoid tension to the storyline. Will Ben survive his task, and did Anna O really commit murder? Is it a case of innocent until proven guilty? You can tell that Matthew has researched these conflicting aspects of Anna O deeply and that he’s put considerable thought into developing the characters along with their individual pasts.

With twists, complexity and hit-you-in-the-face reveals, the storyline flows at a gripping pace, especially the first and final third where I found myself being more invested - so clever!

Reviewed by Danielle.

Anna O was published on 01/02/24 by HarperCollins.

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